Update 9: Impacts of COVID-19 on ASM: Insights from the ground
Sudan: Essential business continues as normal with open markets trading at international spot prices
Situational Update provided by Pact (Dylan McFarlane), Information sourced from Ethiopian-based gold entrepreneurs and cited news reports
Country Overview ASM Workforce: Approximately ~ 1,000,000 1 COVID-19 Country Status: 29 confirmed cases and 4 deaths. (As of 14th April) 2 Government Actions & Challenges:
Public bus travel and all public gatherings banned. All schools closed.
Indefinite curfew between 8pm – 6am (imposed since 24 March).
A full lockdown for 3 weeks will begin 18 April for the state of Khartoum. Grocery stores and pharmacies exempted for limited hours.
“Sudan is in perhaps one of the worst situations anywhere in the world to mobilize an effective national response…[because of]…grinding poverty, lack of household savings to offset lost income, lack of access to clean water, proper sanitation,…a collapsed health care system…millions living in displaced persons camps across Darfur.” Cameron Hudson, Atlantic Council Africa Centre (previously US special envoy to Sudan)
Misinformation and denial has delayed an effective response, and is causing political and social tension. 3
WhatsApp rumours spreading include that the virus is: (1) a European disease designed to poison Africans; (2) Sudan is impervious to the virus because of the country’s young population, hot weather, and Sudanese receiving chloroquine; and (3) that Chinese face masks are being sent pre-infected. 4
Supporters of the previous Bashir administration are protesting and breaking curfew; a powerful imam alleging that COVID-19 was a hoax by the government to stop gatherings, and that social distancing is against Islam.
Health infrastructure is derisory: the country has a population of 42 million but only 200 ICU beds and less than 80 ventilators.
Inflation is 70% with bread, fuel, power and water shortages. 60% of the population work in the informal economy.
Gold Mining Sector
Between 300,00 – 900,000 (up to 2 million) are employed in Sudan’s artisanal and small-scale mining sector.
85 – 90% gold production is informal ASM, and is Sudan’s most important economic sector, worth more than $3 Billion, accounting for > 60% exports. 5
Gold miners continue business as usual, as all but one COVID-19 case has been confined to Khartoum, despite borders and travel closing.
Rumors the government would cease mining circulated in March, but no closures have taken place, except with limited effect at large-scale mines.
Gold prices continue to track international trends – there have been no price decreases as observed elsewhere. Gold trade continues as normal.
Gold mining is expected to be declared “essential activity” by the government and is expected to continue despite the 18 April 3-week Lockdown measures.
New Updates and Analysis available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
Kinross has donated approximately $1 million across all sites to facilitate improved testing, provide medical supplies, improve health infrastructure, support local businesses and help vulnerable groups. Kinross has partnered directly with government health authorities, with mining industry associations, community partners, local businesses, schools and individuals. The company is actively working on a longer-term strategy looking at continued response plus eventual recovery, with lines of action likely to focus on health and local economic reactivation.
Newmont Ghana has announced a US$100,000 support package for Ghana’s public health efforts to minimize the transmission of the Coronavirus disease in the country. This will include support for two testing centers in Accra and Kumasi, as well as preventive measures in and around its Ahafo and Akyem mines and the Ahafo North Project area.
Responsible Steel hosted a multi-stakeholder panel on COVID-19 impacts. (Responsible Steel, 2020)
Rio Tinto has pledged $25 million to support global grassroots, community COVID-19 preparedness and recovery. Rio Tinto Iron Ore Company has worked with Hope Haven in Labrador to provide a furnished housing unit for the community of Labrador City and Wabush.
In Chile, BHP and the Medical Faculty of Universidad Católica, have combined efforts to raise the testing capacity and strengthen the Familiar Health Centers of the South East Area of the Metropolitan Region, as well as Antofagasta and Tarapacá. BHP has contributed $8Million USD to the effort. (BHP, 2020)
Vale has procured 5 million rapid-COVID-19 tests for Brazil that started to be delivered in March. Many survey respondents noted that testing should be a priority. Vale has launched a “COVID-19 Challenge” offering $1 Million in cash prizes for companies in Canada and Brazil to bring innovative COVID-19 solutions to the marketplace with a focus on risk monitoring and prevention and patient monitoring
Suncor has donated 40,000 N95 masks to the Canadian Federal Government, which directed them to communities in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.